Is CTE an excuse for murder? The cases of Chris Benoit and Phillip Adams

You may have heard about the case of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez and the multiple crimes (including murder) that he was involved in before his suicide in 2017. Or the case of Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker. He shot his 22-year-old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins to death in 2012 before killing himself.

CTE is thought to have played a role in both cases mentioned above, as well as many others.

What is CTE?

  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas
  • CTE is a diagnosis made only at autopsy by studying sections of the brain. 
  • CTE cannot be made as a diagnosis during life except in those rare individuals with high-risk exposures.
  • CTE is a rare disorder that is not yet well understood. Experts are still trying to understand how repeated head traumas, including how many and the severity, and other factors might contribute to CTE.
  • CTE has been found in the brains of people who played football and other contact sports, including boxing and professional wrestling. It may also occur in military personnel who were exposed to explosive blasts. 
  • Some signs and symptoms of CTE are thought to include difficulties with thinking, physical problems, emotions, and other behaviors. 
  • It’s thought that these develop years to decades after head trauma occurs.
  • There is currently no cure for CTE.

Adam M. Finkel, a quantitative risk assessor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said “Having the disease can make it more likely for you to be depressed and even kill someone or yourself, but we’ll never know if it was the only or the main cause of this tragic outcome, but the inability to prove that the disease caused any particular outcome should not be used to cast doubt on the broader point, that exposure to repeated head hits is strongly associated with a disease that increases various bad outcomes.”

You can read more about CTE at the Mayo Clinic website.

This blog and our True Crime Society podcast episodes are going to focus on the following cases of CTE related crime:

  • The murder/suicide of WWE Wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy and son Daniel.
  • The murder of 6 people by former NFL player Phillip Adams and his consequent suicide.


Chris and his wife Nancy

Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you’ve probably heard of the murder-suicide involving Chris Benoit.

On June 24, 2007 Chris was scheduled for the live WWE Vengeance PPV where he would win the world championship title for the third time. After not being able to contact Chris for some time, the WWE asked police for a wellness check and the bodies of Chris, his wife Nancy and their son Daniel were found.

Chris Benoit was a 40-year-old Canadian professional wrestler who shot to stardom while employed by the WWE. He was one of the most beloved & respected wrestlers in the industry during his time.

He’s been referred to as “one of the top 10, maybe even the top 5, all time greats”.He held 22 championships between WWE, WCW, NJPW and ECW and was a two-time world champion.

Many wrestling fans will remember him as one of the most elite wrestlers of his generation, but the 2007 tragedy permanently tainted his name and essentially erased him from WWE history.

Who was Nancy Benoit?

Nancy was an American professional wrestling valet, occasional professional wrestler and a model. 

A ‘wrestling valet’ is another term for a manager – which is basically a supporting character paired with a wrestler to add to their story.

She was best known for her appearances with ECW and WCW in the mid-1990s under the ring name Woman.

After modeling in a wrestling magazine, she met her second husband Kevin Sullivan, who convinced her to join his wrestling entourage. After some convincing she agreed and took the ring name “Fallen Angel”

Nancy became a part of Kevin Sullivan’s stable of kayfabe “Satanists.” She and Kevin traveled throughout the United States using the satanist gimmick for promotions.

Kayfabe is keeping to your wrestling character in real life/ outside of the show.

In 1985, Kevin and Nancy got married. This was her second marriage.

She continued on as a wrestling manager for various wrestlers until she would eventually meet Chris Benoit.

Chris and Nancy met in 1997 while they were both still married to other people. 

Chris’ wife at the time was named Martina and they had two kids together – David and Megan. Martina has remained out of the public eye since her divorce.    

Kevin was also a wrestler and is known for ‘booking his own divorce’ after creating a story line where his wife and manager, Nancy, was having an affair with Chris. At the time, Chris and Kevin were in a feud – so this story was meant to add to the drama of it all.  Everything was great, except Chris and Nancy ended up actually having an affair and falling in love.

“Right. We had problems before Chris came in for about 6 months. I mean, things – hey, it happens daily. It happened to us, we grew apart. Truthfully, there was that age difference where she spent her early 20’s with me Not seeing — she saw the world, but not on her own. And Benoit, when we put him with her, his wife was pregnant at the time and he was very leery about it because he had a meeting with Eric [Bischoff] and I and he said, ‘I’ve gotta make sure my wife doesn’t get upset about this. He was very concerned, she was pregnant at the time.

“So yeah, we had probably — I’m gonna say six months we had had problems. We had two houses at the time that we lived in. I was spending more and more time down in the Keys, and she was spending more and more time in Daytona. And then as it eventually went, an incident happened that I actually stayed in Daytona — I mean, the Keys — 98% of the time, and the only time I went up to Daytona was when she wasn’t there. And I mean, we knew where we were headed, that we were headed for a divorce somewhere down the line. And we tried to patch it up a couple times, but things just didn’t work.”

Chris and Nancy began their affair in 1997 and they were engaged later that year.  

Their son Daniel was born on February 25, 2000 and they got married in November 2000. 

In May 2003, Nancy filed for divorce, citing the marriage as “irrevocably broken” and alleging “cruel treatment.

In the divorce papers she filed, Nancy included a petition for protection from domestic abuse against Chris claiming Chris “lost his temper and threatened to strike her and cause extensive damage to the home and personal belongings of the parties, including furniture.” Nancy added that she was, “in reasonable fear for petitioner’s own safety and that of the minor child.”

Three months later, she dropped the suit, along with a restraining order that she had filed against Chris. 

Nancy’s sister, Sandra Toffoloni did an interview with The 2 Count and said:“I lived in Atlanta and my sister asked me home almost every one of my days off. I want to be clear: Chris was not an abusive husband. But there were, what we call in the industry, though don’t often talk about, “high spots”. She had been there, in that position before, and refused to put up with it at all, especially with Daniel in their home. So I went with her after one of these “incidents” to file an order of protection.”

A ‘high spot’ is considered yelling, screaming, name calling, shoving, pushing, and breaking stuff.

When asked why Nancy dropped the divorce proceedings she said “Because, like with any marriage where there are issues, they made up and wanted to reconcile, especially for Daniel.”

WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero died in 2005. Nobody in WWE was affected more by the death of Eddie than his best friend Chris Benoit. People close to him have said they were completely taken back by how emotional he was following Eddie’s passing.

The two men came up in the business together and were extremely close in both WCW and WWE—wrestling countless matches against one another on a nightly basis.

They each won big at WrestleMania 20 in 2004, with Chris nabbing Raw’s World Heavyweight Title and Eddie successfully defending the SmackDown’s WWE Championship. 

Their embrace to close out the show is one of the most iconic shots in wrestling history.

When Eddie died in November 2005 of an enlarged heart, Chris’s world came tumbling down.

Eddie passed away suddenly in his hotel room at the age of 38 after suffering a heart attack due to prolonged drug use.

Chris Jericho, a close friend of theirs, said Eddie’s death broke Chris to his core. When they saw each other at the funeral, Jericho recalled getting a hug from Chris that was “the most desperate, saddest ‘I’m hanging on for dear life’ hugs that you could ever get.” He also noted how Chris was letting out “deep, hitching sobs” during Eddie’s funeral and had to be consoled.

In the past, those close to Chris said he rarely showed emotion. It wasn’t until Eddie’s death that he really began letting his feelings out. 

Greg Oliver, founder of SLAM! Wrestling, a sports website in Toronto, shared an email Chris sent him after Eddie’s death that says in part: “My wife Nancy bought me a diary, and I have started to write letters to Eddie. It may sound crazy, but that is how I’m coping.”

After Eddie’s death, Chris became more and more of a “hermit”. He refused to see anyone and only made things worse by never taking time off from the WWE. Every arena, every city—it all reminded him of Eddie. Those who knew Chris could tell that something was seriously wron.

This is a quote from Nancy’s sister from the interview mentioned before, it’s long but it gives a lot of insight into the situation and Chris’s mindset at this time

“This turn of events was not sudden. Early in 2006, they were looking into putting Daniel in a private Christian school, the best school in the area. Many athletes’ children attended this particular school and the high level of security was related to the caliber of the families of the children that went there. In order to get Daniel in that school, Chris and Nancy had to attend church service regularly. Although my sister and I were raised strictly Catholic, Chris did not subscribe to any one particular religion. He developed an interest in Eastern religion and philosophy while wrestling in Japan. This interest got stronger when it was time to get Daniel into private school. When my brother-in-law wanted to do something or learn of something, he fully invested himself into it. His dedication to his career and his relationship with my sister are proof of this. I used to tell him where to look and what books to read that may be of some interest to him.

Before all that, Chris had suffered multiple losses of friends. Eddie Guerrero’s death in 2005 shocked us all, no one was prepared for that. It was devastating for Nancy but it was devastating for Chris on a whole other level. Eddie’s passing came after a long line of huge losses and Chris was in a state of perpetual bereavement. His as well as Nancy’s closest friends passed away and it always seemed to be drug or steroid-related.

After Eddie passed away, Chris and Nancy discussed the possibility of Chris leaving the WWE and starting his own wrestling school. However, the WWE was prepared to give Chris a big push and put him into another championship match so Chris began training harder and pushing his body further. Chris did a lot of self-medicating. My brother-in-law made every show, he went to every production meeting, never missed a call, never missed a flight and always drove himself or made travel arrangements. Chris wasn’t schizophrenic. Someone with schizophrenia wouldn’t be able to do all that. He had a serious drug problem, used a lot of steroids and was certainly not alone in that at the time. The paranoia was a direct result of the abuse of steroids. The last 2 weeks I spent with Chris, we used to go to the gym and go tanning together. At some point, he began acting weird and I wondered what was wrong with him. He would find 30 different routes to drive to the gym which he never did before. This was the result of combining steroids with pain medication and, later on, alcohol. I had never seen him like this before. The final blow came in mid-June 2007, just a few days before everything happened, when Sherri Martel passed away. That devastated Nancy just as much as Eddie’s death had devastated Chris. I remember my sister telling me “I don’t know how much more of this I can take and I don’t know how much more of this Chris can take”.

The last photo taken of Chris Benoit, one week before his death

The Murder/Suicide

The murder-suicide took place over a 3 day period – June 22-24, 2007 at Chris & Nancy’s home in Fayetteville, Georgia. His friends and the WWE grew concerned after he no-showed the various events for that weekend.


Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

  • Chris was scheduled to appear at the WWE SmackDown live event in Beaumont, TX

3:30 p.m.

  • Fellow wrestler, Chavo Guerrero, received a voicemail from Chris saying he missed his flight and overslept so he would be late to SmackDown. Chavo called Chris back and he confirmed everything he said in his voicemail. Chis sounded tired and groggy before ending the call with “I love you.” That gave Chavo a bad feeling.

3:42 p.m.

  • Chavo decided to call Chris back to make sure everything was okay, but he didn’t answer. Chavo left a message asking for Chris to call him.

3:44 p.m.

  • Chris called Chavo back saying he was trying to change his flight with Delta. He mentioned having a really stressful day due to Nancy and Daniel being sick with food poisoning.

4:30 p.m.

  • Dean Malenko, another wrestler who traveled with Chris often called him from outside the airport to see where he was. Chris told them that Nancy was throwing up blood and that Daniel was also throwing up. He said he suspected they had food poisoning and told his co-worker that he changed his flight and would arrive in Houston at 6:30pm and would drive to Beaumont

5:35 p.m.

  • Chris then called WWE Talent Relations stating that his son was sick and that he and Nancy were at the hospital with him. He told them he would be taking a flight to Houston later to make it to SmackDown, but he would be late to the show.

6:10 p.m.

  • A talent relations employee called Chris and asked what time he would arrive in Beaumont. Chris told them he was leaving Atlanta at 9:20 pm eastern time and would arrive in Houston at 9:24 central time. The employee told Chris that it would be too late for him to make it to SmackDown (assuming it ends at 10pm) and that instead of rushing to Beaumont, he should take the flight and rest up to be ready for the Vengeance Pay-Per-View event the following day.

6:13 p.m.

  • The talent relations employee called Chris back to reconfirm the plan, but Chris didn’t answer. The employee left a voicemail telling Chris again to take the flight and to rest up for tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

3:53 a.m.

  • Texts sent to Chavo and another friend from Chris’s phone
    • “C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville Georgia 30215”
    • “The dogs are in the enclosed pool area. Garage side door is open”

3:54 a.m.

  • Texts sent to Chavo and friend from Nancy’s phone
    • “C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville Georgia 30215”
    • “C, S. My physical address is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville Georgia 30215”

3:58 am

  • Texts sent to Dean Malenko a lot from Nancy’s phone
    • “My address is 130 Green Meadow Lane, Fayetteville Georgia 30215”
  • Throughout the day, WWE made several attempts to contact Chris and checked local hospitals in the Atlanta area.
  • As of 11 p.m. Sunday night, they still had not made contact with him and he didn’t show up for the Vengeance pay-per-view. Johnny Nitro took his place fighting against CM Punk for the ECW World Championship

Monday, June 25, 2007

12:30 p.m.

  • WWE was notified of text messages sent to the two co-workers

12:45 p.m.

  • WWE contacted the Fayette County Sheriff’s office and requested a welfare check on Chris
  • (Clip)

4:00 p.m.

  • WWE received a call from  the Fayette County Sheriff’s office advising that they entered the house and found 3 deceased bodies – a male, female and child. The house was secured as a major crime scene and that they had no further information at that time

Investigators determined that on the weekend of the murders, on Friday Chris had a bbq out by the pool with Daniel. On Friday evening it appears there was some sort of altercation between Chris and Nancy that resulted in Chris restraining Nancy with duct tape and then he utilized a telephone cord to strangle her while pushing his knee into her back. He then placed a bible next to her body. There were a number of beer cans and beer bottles that may indicate Chris may have been drinking. 

The next morning, on Saturday, Chris gave Daniel Xanax and then murdered him in his bed by suffocating him with either a pillow or by placing him in a chokehold. He placed a bible next to his body also. After that, Chris made phone calls and let friends know Daniel and Nancy were sick. That night, Chris went to bed with the bodies of Daniel and Nancy in the house. 

On Sunday, Chris makes a few searches online, first he looked up a story from the bible about the prophet Elijah and the resurrection of a dead boy. Then he searched for the least painful way to break your neck. Chris then went down to his home gym with a half drunk bottle of wine, wrapped the cord from his lat pulldown machine around his neck and set the weight to 240 pounds. When he released the weight it immediately broke his neck.

It was later discovered that Chris left some sort of suicide note. In a bible separate from the ones left beside Nancy and Daniel, Chris wrote a note that said, “I am preparing to leave this earth.” This wasn’t discovered until some of Chris’s belongings were sent to the mother of his other two children and she discovered it.

You can read the autopsy reports for the family here –

Chris’ Autopsy

Nancy’s Autopsy

Some points from their autopsies:


  • Officials said there were no signs of immediate struggle.
  • Toxicology found alcohol, xanax, hydrocodone and hydromorphone in her system – but at therapeutic levels rather than toxic. They also were not sure if the alcohol was from drinking or if it was created as a result of decomp.
    • Alcohol + those medications may explain why she didn’t seem to fight back though.
  • But the medical examiner saw no evidence that she was sedated before she was killed like Daniel was.


  • Once the autopsy came back, it’s been argued that Chris may have put him in a chokehold because Daniel had internal injuries to the throat area, but no bruising.
  • They were not unable to determine exactly when Daniel died, but his body had only just begun to decompose and was not as far along as Nancy’s body.
  • Scott Ballard, the Fayette County DA said – “While we don’t have that nailed down completely, it would appear that some period of time elapsed between the death of the two victims and the suicide, and it struck me as somewhat bizarre that perhaps he would even be in the home with their deceased bodies.”


  • Chris’s blood tested positive for Hydrocodone and Xanax, both at levels within a normal range of usage. 
  • His heart was 3x normal size.
  • His testosterone levels were 10x above average due to a synthetic form of the hormone – will go over this more later.
  • But there were no other “steroids or artificial steroid-like drugs” found in Benoit’s urine.
  • There was no indication that anything in Benoit’s body contributed to his violent behaviour that led to the murder-suicide.

After the murders:

Immediately after the murders WWE posted a statement to their website – “There are no further details at this time, other than the Benoit family residence is currently being investigated by local authorities. WWE extends its sincerest thoughts and prayers to the Benoit family’s relatives and loved ones in this time of tragedy,”.

It wasn’t immediately known that Chris murdered Nancy and Daniel – just that they were all dead. So on the Monday following the deaths, WWE cancelled the scheduled three-hour long episode of RAW and replaced the broadcast with a three-hour tribute to Chris’s life and career, featuring his past matches, segments from the Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story DVD, and comments from wrestlers and announcers.

Once it was discovered that Chris murdered his wife and son, Vince Mcmahon made a second statement basically saying Chris Benoit’s name would never be mentioned by the WWE again. And for the most part, it hasn’t been.

So, why did Chris snap?

  • Steroids/ Drug Abuse
    • At the time, this was the theory the media latched on to – “roid rage”
    • It was common knowledge that Chris had taken steroids for most of his career. It wasn’t until the death of Eddie Guerrero in 2005 that the WWE got strict with drug testing.
    • Chris also had issues with painkillers which dated back to 2001 when he had to have surgery on his neck.
    • Prior to their deaths, police found texts between Nancy and Chris where Nancy complained about his roid-rage.
    • After his death, an investigation into a steroid ring in Florida identified 14 WWE wrestlers as clients of Signature Pharmacy which distributed steroids, human growth hormone and other drugs through clinics that used fraudulently written prescriptions. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were 2 of the 14 wrestlers linked to the ring.
    • Chris’s autopsy also said that his heart was 3x normal size – an enlarged heart is a sign of drug abuse and is what killed Eddie, as well
    • But, Jericho said he believes by the time the murder-suicide happened, Chris wouldn’t have been taking steroids anymore due to the drug testing.
      • “After Eddie died, WWE’s drug testing was super strict – it went through the roof. You couldn’t even take a high-powered aspirin unless you had a prescription. And I’m not kidding, the drug testing was so strict. This ‘rampant steroid use..’ dude, you can’t! You can’t go snort cocaine or smoke weed or anything!”
    • Chris passed all tests leading up to the murders despite having nearly 10 times the amount of testosterone in his body compared to the average man.
      • In an interview, Dr. Kris Sperry, Georgia’s top medical examiner was asked if the testosterone could have contributed to the murders, she said “I think it’s an unanswerable question.”
      • Chris’s toxicology results neither bolstered nor entirely debunked speculation that anabolic steroids might have led to the murders
      • Steroids were found in Chris’s home, but Sperry said there was no evidence of any in his body, and nothing to indicate the drugs played a role in the deaths of Nancy and Daniel Benoit.
      • The presence of testosterone could be attributable to treatment Benoit was receiving for testicular insufficiency. After the Benoit family was found dead, Dr. Phil Astin claimed that he had been administering testosterone replacement therapy to Chris, which would explain the testosterone levels found in the toxicology tests.
    • Vince McMahon said “It’s impossible to think this had anything to do with steroid abuse or roid rage. This was an act of deliberation over a three day period, not an impulse.”
  • Brain Trauma
    • After the murders, Chris’s brain was studied and they found his mind was equivalent to an 85-year-old suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
      • Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms: feeling moody or withdrawn especially in mentally challenging situations, confusion, changes in sleep – restlessness, personality & behavior changes – suspiciousness and delusions or compulsive behavior, agitation & aggression.
    • Chris’s brain tissue showed severe CTE to all four lobes of the brain and stem.
  • In the study done on his brain, Dr. Bennet Omalu noted that the diaries entries Chris wrote to Eddie, included numerous references to depression and memory lapses
  • It’s believed this was the result of years of concussions and unprotected chair shots (which WWE would outlaw shortly after).
    • An unprotected chair shot is a straight chair shot to the head without putting up their hands to soften the blow – so essentially it was just getting hit in the head with a metal chair.
  • Christopher Nowinski, a former professional wrestler who worked with Chris, and who was forced to quit because of head injuries, said he believed that repeated, untreated concussions might have caused his friend to snap.
  • “Part of me hopes there was something wrong with his brain,” Mr. Nowinski said. “The Chris Benoit I knew was always more concerned about everybody else’s well-being than his own.”

Today, concussions are taken much more seriously in professional wrestling, but at the time WWE dismissed the idea that his career as a wrestler could have caused this.There is an ongoing lawsuit against the WWE from 50 former wrestlers that has been going on for six years claiming that the WWE did not protect them from head injuries, including concussions that led to long-term brain damage.

The various lawsuits have been going on for 6 years and have been dismissed and appealed several times. Most judges say there is no evidence to prove that the WWE knew that concussions and head injuries could cause CTE or that the SOL has expired.

The Plaintiffs have been arguing that unlike in football or hockey, WWE matches are scripted and choreographed by the WWE, thus making the company directly responsible for their injuries

As of last month, a lawyer for the former wrestlers filed a request asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.

Similarly, the NFL and NHL were also sued by former players who suffered concussions and other head injuries. The NFL settled for $1 billion while the NHL settled for $18.9 million.

CTE and the NFL:

  • Aaron Hernandez’s case put a huge spotlight on CTE in regard to the NFL.
  • A study from Boston University’s CTE center from 2017 suggests that CTE is more common among football players than previously thought. Researchers found CTE in 99% of the examined brains of former NFL players. The CTE percentage was 91%  among the brains of college players and 21% among high school players.
  • For the study, the researchers began with the donated brains of 202 football players. 
  • Pathologists, knowing nothing of a patient’s history or symptoms, examined each brain for evidence of CTE. At the same time, clinicians used medical records and interviews with family members to collect detailed information about each patient’s medical history and symptoms. 
  • The group met for regular consensus meetings, where the pathologists and the clinicians presented their findings to each other.
  • Of the 202 brains studied, the group diagnosed 177 with CTE.
  • – 110 of 111 from the NFL players (99 percent)
  • – 7 of 8 from the Canadian Football League (88 percent)
  • – 9 of 14 semi-professional players (64 percent)
  • – 48 of 53 college players (91 percent)
  • – 3 of 14 high school players (21 percent). 
  • The group also studied the brains of two pre-high-school players, neither of whom was diagnosed with CTE.
  • The brains of former high school players showed only mild pathology, while the majority of college, semi-professional, and professional players showed severe pathology.
  • The researchers observed clinical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, disinhibition, memory loss, and other mood and behavior impairments even in patients with fairly mild CTE pathology.

The murder of 6 people by former NFL player Phillip Adams is very recent – it happened on April 7, 2021.

Who is Phillip Adams?:

Phillip Adams was born on July 20, 1988 in Rock Hill, SC, making him 32 at the time this all occurred.  He attended Rock Hill High School and played both basketball and football there.  

Phillip Adams was a cornerback out of South Carolina State and he was a seventh-round NFL Draft pick in 2010. Although he was never a standout in the league, he did play in 78 games over five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons.

His best seasons came in his two years in Oakland, where he appeared in 31 games and recorded a pair of interceptions. 

He finished his career with the Falcons in 2015. 

He earned just over $3million during his six NFL seasons.

Phillip suffered multiple injuries over the course of his football career, including a pair of concussions in 2012. Despite that, he only missed one game that season.

In 2010, he suffered a severe ankle injury that required surgery which included several screws being inserted into his leg.

What happened on April 7, 2021?

The Murder-suicide:

Around 4:45pm on Wednesday, April 7th, the York County Sheriff’s Department received two 911 calls.

The first call was from a man who said he heard about 20 gunshots coming from his neighbor’s home. He said, ‘I think we’ve had some trouble. I think there’s been a bad shooting. Maybe four people.’

The other call came from a man who said his coworker, Robert Shook, called him and told him he’d been shot and asked him to call 911. The caller said Robert was slurring his speech and speculated he’d been struck in the head or face. 

Less than 10 minutes later police arrived at the home of Dr Robert Lesslie to find Robert wounded and his colleague James Lewis dead in the driveway of the home.

Robert Shook and James Lewis were air conditioning technicians who were working on the home. Shook was in critical condition and was rushed to the hospital after being shot multiple times. He passed away in the hospital 4 days later on Sunday, April 11th.

Inside the home Dr Lesslie, 70, was found dead, along with his wife Barbara, 69, and their two grandchildren, nine-year-old Adah and five-year-old Noah.

Investigators found evidence that identified the killer as 32-year-old Philip Adams. 

Police launched a massive manhunt for Adams that night.

Officers, K-9 teams and helicopter crews spent hours scouring the area before locating Adams at his parents’ home on Marshall road, about a quarter-mile from the Leslie property.  

Adams’ father Alonzo said officers came to his house on Wednesday night and led him and his disabled wife out of the residence.  

Allison Hope, who lives across from the Adams said police allowed her to return home around 9pm Wednesday. 

Moments later, a vehicle pulled into their driveway and law enforcement quickly surrounded the property.

She said officers spent hours negotiating with Adams, using a loudspeaker and sending in a robot to scan the house. She said authorities repeatedly asked Adams to come out, and promised to get his disabled mother out safely, before Adams shot himself.

‘This is something I can’t grasp yet. I can’t put it all together and I’m trying to, and I witnessed it,’ Allison said. ‘I feel bad for him because if it was mental or something going on in his life or whatever, you know, he needed help, and that’s the sad part.’  

Info on victims:

Dr. Robert Lesslie and his wife Barbara Lesslie –

Dr. Robert Lesslie was a primary care doctor in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He was Board-Certified in both emergency medicine and occupational medicine and was the Medical Director and founder of Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care

His bio on his website says “Believer, husband, father, grandfather, physician, friend and caretaker of golden retrievers, donkeys, ponies and goats, gardener and lover of the outdoors, bagpiper, golfer (significantly handicapped), author”

York County Sheriff’s spokesman Trent Faris described Dr Lesslie as a ‘pillar’ of the Rock Hill community.  

‘I’ve lived in Rock Hill my entire life and Dr Lesslie was my doctor growing up,’ Faris said. ‘Dr Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows. He started Riverview Medical Center in Rock Hill and it’s been a staple in Rock Hill for years. We are shocked that this type of incident happened here,’

‘None of us can figure out why. It doesn’t happen here. It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding and we just hope that everybody understands that we’re going to do everything we can to try to figure out why this happened here in Rock Hill, South Carolina.’ 

Robert and his wife Barbara had a combined obituary

Robert and Barbara

Adah (9) and Noah (5) Lesslie:

Miss Adah Elizabeth Lesslie, 9, and Master Noah Ryan Lesslie, 5, passed away on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
A memorial service will be held at 3pm on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at West End Baptist Church with Dr. J. Barry Dagenhart and Rev. John Oliphant officiating.
Adah was a precocious, riddle-loving, and self-proclaimed book nerd (a title she shared with her Momma). Noah confirmed that Adah was the best big sister. She enjoyed parenting everyone (adults and children alike, and whether they liked it or not). She was in the process of conquering Spanish. Giving was one of her largest spiritual gifts, and Adah often passed that joy by creating and delivering handmade cards and presents. She loved her family and her friends fiercely. Music was Adah’s love language. She was a beautiful soprano who knew every word to every song played on K-Love. Adah was a gentle hugger and prolific snuggler, especially with her Daddo. Adah stumped those she knew with her theological questions. We are sure she is thrilled by finally getting them all answered in Heaven.
At five years old, Noah already mastered the art of physical comedy. He would offer an unsolicited running hug at any given moment — and from any direction. He would have crawled into his Momma’s skin while hugging her so tightly if that were an option. Noah instantly brightened any room he entered, and he had a knack for knowing when those around him needed to laugh (a skill he learned from his Daddo). Noah’s most repeated question in life was whether he would get to ride horses in heaven (specifically Artex from The Neverending Story), and he frequently expressed concern over whether he would miss Jesus’ call because he was “not the best at listening.” From his grandfathers, Noah inherited the ability to — sometimes shockingly — turn a phrase with suspicious maturity. He did everything with wild abandon, including loving his family and all of his friends.
Adah and Noah would jump at the chance to have special time with Poopah, Yaya, Nana, Papa, as well as numerous other family members. Their friends meant the world to them. Undoubtedly, Adah and Noah knew and loved Jesus. They spoke openly about who Jesus is to them. Their understanding of, and love for, the gospel was evident even at their young ages. We take great comfort in knowing Adah and Noah are in heaven (covered in glitter because they are with their Nana and mouths full of gum from their Papa). Their Momma and Daddo are patiently waiting to join them.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Adah and Noah’s name to Camp Joy North Carolina, 918 South Pleasantburg Dr, Greenville, SC 29607.

You can read their obituary here.

Adah and Noah

Robert Shook:

Family members told WBTV that Robert Shook was a married father of three. His obituary lists his family as:

Holly Craft Shook of the home; a daughter, Keleigh Shook; two sons, John Robert Shook and Eli Shook

‘He is a hard-working man who put himself through school to become a certified heating and air service worker, to provide for his family,’ Shook’s cousin, Heather Michele said. ‘He is just a wonderful, wonderful man.’ 

He had undergone multiple surgeries and was fighting for his life, but succumbed to his injuries a few days later.

Robert Shook

James Lewis:

James Lewis’ parents told the local station that he was their only child and was a single father of three children, a 16-year-old and 13-year-old twins. 

‘I keep on expecting to wake up, “Oh, it was just a bad dream,” but it’s not. It’s real,’ Tom Lewis, James’ father, said. ‘I would like to find out why this guy did what he did.’

James’ mother said he was working as an HVAC technician to provide for his three children.  

‘He helped anybody, he was a kind guy, a great dad. It’s just so stupid,’ mom Linda Tucker said. 

You can read James’ obituary here.

Aftermath/ Investigation:

  • Adams’ father, Alonzo Adams, told WCNC that his son being a football player was to blame for the tragedy.
    • ‘I can say he’s a good kid,’ the father told the station. ‘I think the football messed him up.’
  • Adams had recently moved in with his parents in Rock Hill, just a two-minutes drive from Dr Lesslie’s home.
  • Sheriff Tolson opened his press conference by reading a statement from the Lesslie family, which said in part: 
    • While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question “why,” we are sure of one thing: we do not grieve as those without hope. Our hope is found in the promise of Jesus Christ, and we are enveloped by peace that surpasses all understanding. To that end, our hearts are bent toward forgiveness and peace. Toward love and connectedness. Toward celebration and unity.’ 
  • Adams’ father, Alonzo said in an interview “‘All I can say is we pray for the family. He used to be my doctor a long time ago. I know they were good folks down there. We’re gonna keep them in our prayers.’ 
  • Adams’ autopsy will include CTE Study
    • “The autopsy of Mr. Adams is scheduled to be conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Routine forensic autopsies do not identify chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). We have contacted Boston University and they will be working with us to conduct a brain study to identify if Mr. Adams had CTE. We are unsure of the time frame for results at this time,” – York County coroner Sabrina Gast.

Phillip Adams background & behavior:

In an interview with AP, Adams’ agent, Scott Casterline, said Adams often isolated himself, even as a player.

“He was part of my family. I loved him. He’s a great kid, a great guy. This is so unlike him. He had to not be in his right mind, obviously,”

‘All of us who knew Philip are shaking our heads. He struggled away from the game. I tried to get him to come to Texas. I was going to find him a job, but he wouldn’t leave South Carolina because he had a son. He was a good father.

‘Seeing Philip shoot two kids, it’s not him. I can’t fathom it. It’s devastating for the victims and the families,’ 

“I knew he was hurting and missing football but he wouldn’t take health tips offered to him. He said he would but he wouldn’t. I felt he was lost without football, somewhat depressed.”

Adams had a criminal record, which included an arrest in 2009 on charges of misdemeanor assault and battery, although he was not convicted. He was also arrested in Charlotte for carrying a concealed gun in 2016.

In 2009, Adams’ mother, Phyllis Adams, was involved in a horrific car wreck that has left her severely disabled and wheelchair-bound. 

In an interview with The Times and Democrat in 2010, Phillip was quoted as saying: ‘[My mother] is my motivation,” he said. “We can look through life, and you go through adversity. This is one of the biggest things I have had to deal with.’ 

Adams’s sister, Lauren Adams, told USA Today that her brother, who was 32, had recently become unusually aggressive. “His mental health degraded fast and terribly bad,” she said. “There was unusual behavior.”

Those closest to Adams described him as not having come to terms with the end of his N.F.L. career and as someone who had a caretaker role in his family. 

No motive has been confirmed for the murders yet. There is some speculation that Phillip may have been a patient of Dr Lesslie. 

US Congressman Ralph Norman who described himself as a close friend of Dr Lesslie and his wife, said he was told by law enforcement that withholding medication from Adams, who suffered multiple concussions in his football career, led to the deadly attack. 

“He was treating him and stopped giving him medicine and that’s what triggered the killings from what I understand,” Norman said.

CTE Points

  • The disease has also been tied to memory lapses, loss of focus and problems following directions and handling everyday chores. But researchers have found only associations, not causal links, between the disease and the many apparent symptoms.
  • It remains difficult and perhaps impossible to determine a motive after a suicide because so many factors can play a role, including persistent mental distress and drug use. (NY Times)
  • It seems like both Chris and Phillip suffered head injuries but never took time off of work to heal properly – which is something also mentioned in the lawsuit against the WWE.

CTE/ Religious Ideation:

  • Aaron Hernandez wrote a bible verse on the wall before killing himself.
  • People said Chris wasn’t overly religious, but before he killed himself he placed bibles next to Nancy and Daniel and googled scripture.
  • Facts:
    • Having an increased focus on religion or religious activities is a possible symptom of mania and hypomania in bipolar disorder.1 This heightened focus isn’t necessarily unique to bipolar disorder, however, as it is also associated with schizophrenia,2 schizophreniform disorder,3 schizoaffective disorder, and other psychotic disorders.
    • Having religious delusions has been found to be associated with a more serious course of illness and poorer outcomes. Research has shown that patients with religious delusions had more severe psychotic symptoms, a longer history of illness, and poorer functioning prior to the onset of a psychotic episode.

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